Between Tunnels to Wooded Grove 70km
To Erzurum 70km
Once again I've entered a new country with very little planning, very little thought about what I'm going to be presented with, and little idea of a route to follow. I've just heard that the coastal route gets pretty boring, and then pretty hilly. So I've headed south, inland. But looking at a map...Turkey is huge.... and my goal is Anzac Cove, 1400km west. And WOW, the country side is amazing. I've been cycling through some incredible valleys, almost gorges, along beautiful autumn tree lined roads, besides rushing rivers. So unexpected. Trouble is, it's blimmen cold stuck down in these gorges, not getting any sunshine. But, I've been slowly climbing, and eventually have exchanged warmth from exercise, for warmth from sunshine. Nice.
But the climb has been tough, and to be honest, being cold, working hard climbing, and not having a specific goal, has been a little depressing...... until I heard a scream from a wooded area..... "Grum....Grum....." It was a British couple I had met near the Armenian, Georgia border. They were still packing up there campsite, and they too were freezing, and glum. However, realising we were not the only ones out in the cold perked us all up. I left them finishing their packing, and headed up the road to find food, hot soup and fresh bread for breakfast is the accepted norm. I'm sure we will catch up again along the road.
Still climbing, and the landscape is amazing, sort of rolling hills, but quite dry, surrounded by higher peaks with fresh snow, not uncommon in NZ, except the pass just ahead is over 2000m, (no wonder I'm puffed). And another cyclist appears. This time a Slovenian I'd met in Tajikistan...... it's a very small world. And uncommonly, all four of us are heading west.
But here is my dilemma.... I'm not much of a tourist. All the others are heading to Cappadocia. But I'm not sure why. Yes it's famous, but for what, and do I really want to cycle perhaps another 300km to see ruins, old rocks? I'd appreciate your thoughts. For me travelling on a bicycle is more about meeting locals, soaking in the atmosphere of the country today. I know little about the history, but I find I learn as I go. My moto has become:
" what I see is what I see", and it has worked and been really satisfying so far. Please correct me.....really quickly.... if I'm making a mistake. My feeling right now is to take the shortest route west.
Yesterday, I met a local, and had a great chat with him, via Google Translator. I think, he is a Medical student, and we sat in the sun against the wall of a Mosque, out of the wind, for sometime, and chatted. Great.
And now I'm in my first big (400,000) Turkish city. Every way you look is a mosque. Everywhere men are sitting drinking chai..... women don't seem to congregate the same way. There are more women on the streets, and in this Muslem country it is very apparent that they have far more choice of dress than in Iran. Some elect to wear full cover, except for the eyes. Others expose their face only, wearing scarfs and feature hiding clothes, but many, especially the young, are wearing fashionable dressier clothes, as seen in any western city. Fascinating to experience and see the difference, when Iran is only just over a border.
So Turkey has surprised me. The scenery so far has been stunning. The people helpful and pleasant. The weather so far kind, but winter is fast approaching. I'd appreciate your thoughts on my route to Gallipoli, oh and if you're anywhere near Hanmer Springs next weekend, check out The Amuri Players production of The Addams Family. Break a leg guys.